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How Do Missile Subs Launch Ballistic Missiles?  
User currently offlineSmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1619 posts, RR: 29
Posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 16477 times:

How do "boomers" (the large nuclear ballistic missile subs, like the Typhoons) launch their SLBMs?

Say a Soviet SSBN (like the Typhoon class) wanted to launch one of his SLBMs at Fort Wayne, IN (my hometown)...

Can the missiles be launched underwater, without surfacing? Or is it necessary to surface to launch missiles? Do the missiles' rocket engines ignite immediately once the launch keys are turned, or are the rockets somehow boosted out of the silos before the ignition?

Do all SSBNs launch the same way?

SmithAir747


I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineWannabe From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 675 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 16512 times:

I believe that they are launched from the silo's using compressed air while submerged, with motor ignition occurring as soon as the missle clears the surface of the water. This video shows actual footage of a launch at about the 3 minute mark of the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xvYt3wb6nw&feature=related


User currently offlineZANL188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3434 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 16513 times:
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My understanding is that modern U.S. sub use a gas generator to force the missile out of the tube and into the air above surface. Ignition takes place above the water. Some say there is so much gas generated that the missile never even gets wet, which is possible I suppose as the missile is essentially inside a bubble as it goes to the surface.


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User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 29690 posts, RR: 84
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 16520 times:
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All modern SLBMs are launched using compressed air. This burst is sufficient for the missile to clear the surface of the water at which point the rocket ignites and the missile heads for it's target(s).

The sub will angle itself off to one side to allow for the SLBM to clear the sub if the motor fails to ignite.


User currently offlineDw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1254 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 16470 times:

How long does it take to launch a full compliment of missiles?


CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineMoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2245 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 16446 times:



Quoting Dw747400 (Reply 4):
How long does it take to launch a full compliment of missiles?

Be careful - Blackbird asked that question, and hasn't been heard from since  Wink



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineJohns624 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 865 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 16421 times:



Quoting Moose135 (Reply 5):
Blackbird asked that question, and hasn't been heard from since

There IS a God!!!  Smile


User currently offlineSASD209 From British Indian Ocean Territory, joined Oct 2007, 640 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 16424 times:

IIRC, one of my old Janes books credited either a UK Resolution class or a USSR Yankee class with being able to launch 16 missiles in 15 minutes. I'll check into the specifics later, but those numbers do ring a bell.

SASD209


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 29690 posts, RR: 84
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 16415 times:
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Quoting Dw747400 (Reply 4):
How long does it take to launch a full compliment of missiles?

I would imagine you would want about a minute or so between launches to allow the water turbulence to clear and make sure that if one of your birds is a dud, it is not an obstacle.

So you'd be looking at probably about 30 minutes for a complete launch, I am guessing.


User currently offlineUH60FtRucker From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 16372 times:

I was reading an interesting report the other day on the Army portal, that noted websites like a.net, have been notorious for accidentally publishing sensitive information.

And of course, the old argument comes about: well it can be found on another website. ...But does that mean we ought to republish it, and make it easier to find and disseminate amongst the public?

Anyway... what benefit is gained by telling everyone the launch time frame needed for an Ohio class submarine, to launch all of its missiles?

-UH60


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 29690 posts, RR: 84
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 16222 times:
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Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 9):
Anyway... what benefit is gained by telling everyone the launch time frame needed for an Ohio class submarine, to launch all of its missiles?

It will keep Iran and North Korea honest?  duck 

Seriously, the only time any Ohio class SSBN would unload her entire physics payload was due to an all-out nuclear exchange with Russia or China. And chances are they know how long it would take because they, too, have SSBN fleets.


User currently offlineCURLYHEADBOY From Italy, joined Feb 2005, 940 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 16202 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
So you'd be looking at probably about 30 minutes for a complete launch, I am guessing.

Isn't it too long for being safe? I mean, once you launch a missile you give away your position, and 30 minutes looks quite enough for the enemy to find and sink you...



If God had wanted men to fly he would have given them more money...
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 29690 posts, RR: 84
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 16121 times:
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Quoting CURLYHEADBOY (Reply 11):
Isn't it too long for being safe? I mean, once you launch a missile you give away your position, and 30 minutes looks quite enough for the enemy to find and sink you...

I remain of the opinion that the Russians (and definitely the Chinese) do not know where our SSBN's are. So even when missiles start popping out of the ocean, they will be unable to bring any weapon to bare on those SSBNs before they have completed their firing sequence.

Also, the D-5 missile's range allows our SSBNs to stay much closer to home where they can be better protected during times of crisis.


User currently offlineBlackProjects From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2007, 756 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 16114 times:

Some Boomer Captains used to use a technique called shoot and Scoot, Meaning you fire one and Go Deep and Vanish for a bit but with the amount of Stuff being let loose in a full scale MAD Launch no one would have the time to fire on a Single Boomer let alone send an Aircraft out to sink it when its normaly Thousands of Miles away from the Bad guys.

As every Man and his Dog would be lobbing Missiles at each other all at the same time.

Roast Pork anyone?


User currently offlineSASD209 From British Indian Ocean Territory, joined Oct 2007, 640 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 15987 times:



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 9):


Anyway... what benefit is gained by telling everyone the launch time frame needed for an Ohio class submarine, to launch all of its missiles?

-UH60

I don't recall anybody mentioning anything about an Ohio class SSBN before you brought it up. In fact, the OP mentioned a Russian Typhoon SSBN and I a Russian and UK sub....

SASD209


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3396 posts, RR: 29
Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 15966 times:

Lets just hope this will never, ever happen. Launches from Sea look impressive, but lets keep that to practice trials.

User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 15933 times:



Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
Ignition takes place above the water.



Quoting Stitch (Reply 3):
clear the surface of the water at which point the rocket ignites and the missile heads for it's target(s).

I believe the motor ignites when the missile just starts to "fall back" into the water. The "negative" Gs is what fires the motor.If you watch the video, it looks like the missile just about "stops" and starts to fall back and the motor fires. But I could be worng.

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
Some say there is so much gas generated that the missile never even gets wet, which is possible I suppose as the missile is essentially inside a bubble as it goes to the surface.

Sounds good, as I would want a missile to fail just cuz some sea water got into it. And adding waterproofing would add a lot of weight not needed for filght.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineUH60FtRucker From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 15875 times:



Quoting SASD209 (Reply 14):

Regardless, the point went beyond this narrow subject, and spoke to the larger issue.

I wasn't telling him to shut up, or smacking his dick in the dirt for daring to ask such a question. I was simply raising a valid issue: sometimes we talk about stuff that seems harmless, but in the larger context, might be considered harmful.

I've done it a few times myself. In fact, there are a few posts I later requested be removed, because I thought there was stuff that ought not be there.

I am not sure if a submarine's complete missile launch time frame is common knowledge... but I do not think there is anything wrong with us taking a second to wonder if what we're publishing, ought to be published.

..That's all I am saying: think before we write.

-UH60


User currently offlineSlz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 15853 times:

Here's a link to a video of a Soviet/Russian "Akula" (Shark) class submarine, called Typhoon class by NATO, launching a few SLBMs during an exercise in the Northern Atlantic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlp1lUWqRYI

It is interesting because it shows 2 launches from below the water surface with a small interval, thus contradicting the theory they'd need more than a minute in between.

This class of submarine reportedly carries 20 BMs, with 10 warheads each and it only takes a few minutes to knock an entire continent off the map, with our without missile defence shield.


User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5609 posts, RR: 45
Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 15820 times:
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Quoting Slz396 (Reply 18):
Here's a link to a video of a Soviet/Russian "Akula" (Shark) class submarine

You can't believe all you see, the launches in that video also appear in other videos claiming they are Tridents.... someone is wrong



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 15642 times:



Quoting Slz396 (Reply 18):
This class of submarine reportedly carries 20 BMs, with 10 warheads each and it only takes a few minutes to knock an entire continent off the map, with our without missile defence shield.

US missile defenses are not currently deployed or advertised as "star wars" style game changers. The current system is meant only for rogue state/accidental/or unauthorized launches.

Also, 200 warheads could not "knock a continent off the map". That is a gross exaggeration, though it is understandable why it is commonly believed. Hiroshima and Nagasaki's casualties were higher because those cities were essentially super dense tinderboxes. Most modern cities are not built like that. Nuclear weapons ARE very destructive. But they are not THAT destructive. Nuclear war would really, really suck. But it would not be the end of the world. At that level, it probably wouldn't even be the end of the countries involved if one is thinking of countries as large as China, Russia or the US.

One needs about 10 modern warheads to simply destroy an entire major, first world city. Or two to three of the huge cold war Titan II warheads. If you lobbed a 500 kiloton warhead into Chicago, you would probably kill a few hundred thousand people and cause a lot of damage within a certain radius. But the vast bulk of the metro area would remain intact.

So you can destroy most of 20 metro areas in all of, say North America with 200 warheads. Perhaps 10-15 would be in the US. Even in these areas there would be many survivors, but there would be casualties in some untargeted areas because of fallout. It would still be a bad day for everybody, to be sure. But the vast majority of the continent's population would survive. Worse things have happened to many countries that in the end survived and prospered.

Note this assumes a deliberate targeting of cities, and that all the warheads survived. That is the absolute worse case. If one assumes military bases are the main targets, the picture changes. Many of these are in isolated areas, and one needs more than one warhead from different missiles aimed at the same target to be sure of destroying any given base. A lot of potential targets are hardened, and that increases the number of warheads required dramatically. In this kind of strike we are looking at "only" a few million killed, mostly by fallout. Modern Russian and Western nuclear forces are designed for this kind of strike - over time nukes have traded yield for accuracy and number of warheads per delivery
device. Yet even with the lower yields, many missiles carry a lot fewer warheads then they can. This is because arms control agreements require a reduction of the total number of warheads, and this is the easiest way to do it.

Another factor to be considered is that it is more then likely that some of of a subload of SLBM's would be duds. The working missiles would no doubt contain a few dud warheads as well. For obvious reasons, its hard to test the beasts in completely realistic conditions. This means there would be considerably less then 200 warheads surviving.

The lesson in this is that it may not be as hard as one thinks to reduce the level of nuclear weapons in the world below the amount necessary to destroy civilization. A few hundred nuclear warheads is NOT the same as the thousands currently in US and Russian arsenals. If the US, Russia and China limited themselves to a couple hundred warheads - and other nuclear states were content with a handful, that would essentially eliminate the threat of a civilization-killing nuclear war. But it would leave enough to serve as a major deterrent to conventional wars between nuclear powers. It would also be enough to make cheating unprofitable - even if one were able hide a few extra from modern spy sats, it would still not be enough to make a difference in a war.


User currently offlineCURLYHEADBOY From Italy, joined Feb 2005, 940 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 15594 times:



Quoting Cloudy (Reply 20):
US missile defenses are not currently deployed or advertised as "star wars" style game changers. The current system is meant only for rogue state/accidental/or unauthorized launches.

I agree, though politically it's hard for the US to get this message through diffidence.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 20):
One needs about 10 modern warheads to simply destroy an entire major, first world city. Or two to three of the huge cold war Titan II warheads. If you lobbed a 500 kiloton warhead into Chicago, you would probably kill a few hundred thousand people and cause a lot of damage within a certain radius. But the vast bulk of the metro area would remain intact.

Hard to tell... but remember most of Russia's warheads are larger than the western ones, at least 1 Megaton each meaning they severely affect an area of up to 9 miles from ground zero, making it 18 miles across (it may depend if it's an airburst or whether it explodes on the ground) and in a densely populated area such as Chicago it may very well cause casualties ecxeeding one million.



If God had wanted men to fly he would have given them more money...
User currently offlineNicoEDDF From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 1097 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 15557 times:



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 17):
I am not sure if a submarine's complete missile launch time frame is common knowledge... but I do not think there is anything wrong with us taking a second to wonder if what we're publishing, ought to be published.

Has anyone here first hand knowledge of such issues? I doubt it.
So in any case I would suspect that any important nation in the world will have the question answered long ago, if they would considered it worthwhile.

And I further doubt that any nation is surfing a.net or any other website for that matter, to gain information about the launch sequence of any SSBN floating around in the dark blue...


User currently offlineDw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1254 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 15521 times:



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 17):
..That's all I am saying: think before we write.

I think you have a point, but I'd suggest that discussing a topic like this is not a problem in itself, but it certainly can lead to individuals releasing sensitive information when trying to be helpful, or just trying to impress others with their knowledge.

I think that it is primarily the responsible of the person who has the information to determine what they can and can't say. Very few people are trying to influence their judgment or goad them into publicly releasing confidential data. As I said above, human nature sometimes leads individuals to do just that on forums, but I wanted to see some publicly available information combined with the inferences of some knowledgeable board members, and not intend to encourage those with restricted information to disclose it.



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13046 posts, RR: 78
Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 15499 times:

Oddly, the RN nickname thier SSBN's Bombers , it's not a misheard copy of Boomer either. But something arrived at independently.

(On one doc about subs, some who had served on RN Polaris/Chevaline boats, said they passed the time on long dull patrols, by on one boat, installing a 'Scaletric' slot car racing track around the missile compartment, another had a 'crazy golf' course in it's place!)


25 SASD209 : I've found it, finally! Janes Fighting Ships in the 1961-1962 edition credits the US George Washington class with being able to launch all 16 missile
26 AAR90 : Yes, quite a lot of folks when you think about it. But none that will speak of such issues without very good justification. It is not called the "sil
27 JayinKitsap : I believe each sub test launches one or 2 birds every few years. Reliability of delivery is well better than 95%. There are 14 Trident subs with up t
28 Cloudy : We wern't talking about total nuclear war, we were talking about a single subload. Civilization would survive a single subload. A large country such
29 NicoEDDF : In total? Yes, surely. Here on a.net? No, I don't think so. Some may, not many though. (That's why I wrote "here" in my first statement )
30 Post contains links UH60FtRucker : If you're really interested in how certain tonnage would effect certain land areas, use this yield detonation effect simulator: http://meyerweb.com/er
31 JayinKitsap : " target=_blank>http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/gmap/...d=100 Quite interesting, seeing how a 100 MPH wind (higher than most locations in the US) has
32 Comorin : What a fascinating thread! Thank you, posters. One issue that has not been addressed is fall-out - we're mostly looking at structural damage. While it
33 Nomadd22 : Worse for us than for Russians. They increase the yield of their warheads by encasing them in U235 to get a fission-fusion-fission reaction. It makes
34 SASD209 : Globalsecurity.org and FAS.org have excellent references about this topic. I believe the consensus is < 20KT is the most likely expected tonnage. SAS
35 Comorin : Thank you! Now to google 'Nuclear Winter'... btw, I was reflecting on UH60's comments, but everything's out in plain sight on Wiki and with first pag
36 Astuteman : Absolutely right. And when you realise how much these things weigh, that's a LOT of gas. That would surprise me. The very first, last and continuing
37 Nomadd22 : I know of one ex Boomer resident who frequents A-net. He has a t-shirt that says "24 empty tubes. Now it's Miller time"
38 Astuteman : I have a suspicion there's another one too.. (not me, I hasten to add ) Rgds
39 Stitch : The sub would angle itself prior to commencing launches.
40 Astuteman : I have to admit that this is one I've not heard before...... I've certainly not seen it being incorporated into the technical specifications for the
41 SASD209 : As unlikely as it sounds, it certainly would be very easy to induce, say, a 5 degree list to the launch side before launch. Assuming of course that wa
42 Astuteman : A very valid point... For what it's worth, the crash would not be particularly dramatic - the submarine itself is after all, under the water. "Splash
43 AustrianZRH : One correction: the encasing is made of U-238, which can be used for fission with high energy neutrons (rather low yield, though).
44 Stickers : Not sure if a joke, but the missiles get completely wet when the outer doors open. They do not open quick enough for the missile to be fired and rema
45 Post contains images ZANL188 : Not a joke - As you say though, check out the video. If you look at the video in reply 1 you can clearly see pieces of the frangible capsule the miss
46 Post contains images ZANL188 : Do a google images search on "Trident SLBM" and you'll find images of tridents coming out of the water at all sorts of angles... Including this one..
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